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John Conwell: aka Turbo Research in the visual exploration of data
This is something I've been wondering about for about a year now.  Microsoft has a history of creating very useful products, with lots of useful features.  But useful does not mean usable.  A lot of stuff coming out of Redmond the past 10 years don't really seem to have been well thought out from a user design point of view.  Lots of extra steps, lots of popup windows...very little innovative thinking going on about the user experience of these products.

But about a year ago I started seeing changes in the new products coming out of Microsoft.  Windows 7 is a good example of a big change.  They really got their asses handed to them on Vista, so they had to make a change.  But it looks like this change in philosophy has bled over to other areas.  The new Office (2010) lineup has a lot of changes in it to make it way more usable. 

Given that big changes like this take about 3 years to go from start to actually shipping product, I'm curious what happened internally at Microsoft that really drove this change in product design.  I think that Microsoft got so focused on just adding new functionality for so long, they forgot about the little things that can really make or break a product.  Office 2010 is full of these little things that make it much nicer to use.  I just hope its not too late for them.
Posted on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 2:40 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Did Microsoft designers got their butts kicked 3 years ago?

# re: Did Microsoft designers got their butts kicked 3 years ago?
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You like the ribbon? Personally I think it's a step backwards.

As for Win7, the "super" taskbar isn't so super IMHO. They were afraid to be accused of copying Apple so they didn't implement "Stacks" from OSX which is a much better implementation of "Taskbar Toolbars". (Not that I like OSX, it's possibly the worst OS ever...)

And they did all that renovation in IE8, but it still pops up with a huge annoying "Welcome" dialog the first few times you start it up until you finally go through it's steps to shut it up. Chrome is a much, much nicer experience (again, IMHO!)
Left by WayneB on Apr 13, 2010 3:13 PM

# re: Did Microsoft designers got their butts kicked 3 years ago?
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No, I think Office 2007 was equivilent to Vista. But they learned from their mistakes, and it definitly shows in Office 2010.

I'm not saying that Microsoft has turned all the way around and is creating very usable stuff now, I'm just saying that, for the first time in a long time I'm seeing a change in how they design their user interfaces.
Left by John on Apr 13, 2010 4:07 PM

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